One of the things about trick shots is you have to practice the same shot over and over again until you get it down. This usually doesn’t happen with the recreational pool player who just shoots regular games and doesn’t take the time to learn certain shots. Similarly though, if you just keep shooting the shot incorrectly, not trying to figure out what’s going wrong, then you’ll never know how to make the shot correctly and leave it up to chance. With that in mind, every time you shoot a shot, you should analyze it and figure out what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what needs to be done to correct it. As I said earlier, it takes patience, precision, and a willingness to learn.
There are numerous variables you can adjust while shooting:
- Setup: The setup of the balls, including cue ball position
- Aim: Where you’re aiming the shot
- Bridge: Bridge height and distance
- Speed: The speed of your stroke
- English: The spin you apply to the cue ball (follow, draw, left, and right)
- Elevation: The elevation of your cue stick when you shoot
- Follow-through: The extent of your follow through when you shoot
Numbers 3 – 7 are essentially your stroke. If you don’t have a repeatable stroke, it will be more difficult to make adjustments to any one of these variables.
Always have a purpose when you attempt a shot: learn something from it
Through practice, it is good to get an idea of how each of these variables affect a shot and to what degree. Then, when you miss, you’ll have an idea of what you need to change. As most of these are interdependent, it is advisable to change only one of these at a time. Always have a purpose when you attempt a shot (not just to make it), but to learn something from it.
The first thing you need to know though when you shoot is not that a shot went wrong because “the ball didn’t go in the pocket”, but how it went wrong. For this, you also need to know where to look after you shoot. This is especially important in setup shots involving lots of balls. You can’t always follow the cue ball around the table. You need to know if the balls are missing “long” or “short”. If a ball is supposed to go in the corner pocket and it ends up hitting the end rail, it went “long”. If it hits the side rail, it went “short”. Obviously, move the setup of the ball slightly the opposite way in order to steer it in to the pocket.